A hearty, cinema-worshipful “Amen!” to your Dec. 7 editorial, “Let’s not let COVID change the way we watch movies.” We have all had to adapt our lives recently. One of our great losses has indeed been our common culture and art, as best experienced in cinemas. As your editorial says, “there are few joys like experiencing a good movie in a crowded theater.” Or even an uncrowded one — it’s the joy of seeing and hearing art as it was intended to be seen and heard, the better to affect us.

Your editorial notes Hollywood’s accommodation to streaming services — and their bottom lines — by pulling their costliest products from theater exclusivity, not for safety reasons (in fact, no COVID outbreak has been linked to a theater worldwide) but for fear of economic failure by films with huge budgets needing massive turnouts.

But those are only a fraction of films made — and in particular, a fraction of the worthiest. Yet other films are losing their audiences and exhibition spaces just as surely now. We are fortunate in Maine to have some terrific locally owned and operated theaters that support not just the art and entertainment of cinema, but the communities that frequent them, from the Skowhegan Cinema and Railroad Square in Waterville in central Maine, to the Colonial in Belfast and the Harbor in Boothbay Harbor to the East, to the Gem in Bethel and the Lakeside in Rangeley to the West.

These are local shrines to something bigger than themselves — to a past and future of storytelling, art and expression, to powerful drama and comedy (in the greatest films, as in life, generally mixed.) Keeping and supporting them is essential to us — as is not being divided into the separate, distanced, uninvolved, alienating consuming units that streaming consumerism leads us towards.

Ken Eisen


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